City of Alexandria Responds to Statewide Rise in Drug Overdoses; Encourages Use of Treatment and Recovery Programs

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City of Alexandria Responds to Statewide Rise in Drug Overdoses; Encourages Use of Treatment and Recovery Programs

For Immediate Release: December 3, 2020

With a statewide rise in drug overdoses, City of Alexandria officials are concerned that individual and collective stress from the COVID-19 pandemic may be linked to increased substance use, and remind residents that treatment and recovery programs, and other resources, are available. The City and the Alexandria Community Services Board offer an opioid treatment program, the Alexandria Residential Treatment Center, mental health and substance abuse residential services, outpatient treatment for substance use disorders and a Narcan-by-mail delivery program.

The Virginia Department of Health’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports that 2020 may be the worst year on record for fatal overdoses in Virginia. Preliminary figures from the second quarter of 2020 indicate a 66.8% increase in fatal drug overdoses in Virginia from the same period in 2019, suggesting a possible correlation with the COVID-19 pandemic. The total number of fatal overdoses in 2019 was 1,626, the largest annual number reported in Virginia. There have been 2,053 fatal overdoses in Virginia in the first half of 2020. Of those, 1,701 were related to opioid related overdoses, with 474 related to prescription opioids and 1,498 related to fentanyl, heroin, or both. 

There were 69 opioid overdoses in Alexandria in 2018, of which eight were fatal. In 2019, there were 73 opioid overdoses, of which 14 were fatal. As of November 30, 2020, there have been 85 opioid overdoses, of which 13 were fatal.

The drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan, can save the life of someone who is experiencing an opioid overdose, if given in time. Any Alexandria resident can obtain Narcan by mail for free by emailing their name and address to opioids@alexandriava.gov or pick up a dose of the easy-to-use nasal spray by calling the Alexandria Health Department at 703.746.4888 or the City’s Opioid Response Coordinator at 703.746.3326. Narcan is also available at pharmacies without a prescription.

If you or someone you care about needs help with substance use addiction, call 703.746.3636 (Virginia Relay 711), 24 hours a day for treatment options in Alexandria. Individuals who do not live in Alexandria can find treatment options at samhsa.gov or by calling 800.662.HELP (4357).

Anyone with information regarding past overdoses should call the Alexandria Police Department at 703.746.4444.

For life-threatening situations, call or text 911 immediately.

Visit alexandriava.gov/Opioids for more information on the opioid crisis, how to get help and how the City is responding, including a printable flyer on overdose symptoms and how to get help.

For inquiries from the news media only, contact Andrea Blackford, Senior Communications Officer, at andrea.blackford@alexandriava.gov or 703.746.3959.

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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/119181.

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